In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, residents of Athens mix with fairies from a local forest, with comic results. In the city, Theseus, Duke of Athens, is to marry Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. Bottom the weaver and his friends rehearse in the woods a play they hope to stage for the wedding celebrations.
Four young Athenians are in a romantic tangle. Lysander and Demetrius love Hermia; she loves Lysander and her friend Helena loves Demetrius. Hermia’s father, Egeus, commands Hermia to marry Demetrius, and Theseus supports the father’s right. All four young Athenians end up in the woods, where Robin Goodfellow, who serves the fairy king Oberon, puts flower juice on the eyes of Lysander, and then Demetrius, unintentionally causing both to love Helena. Oberon, who is quarreling with his wife, Titania, uses the flower juice on her eyes. She falls in love with Bottom, who now, thanks to Robin Goodfellow, wears an ass’s head.
As the lovers sleep, Robin Goodfellow restores Lysander’s love for Hermia, so that now each young woman is matched with the man she loves. Oberon disenchants Titania and removes Bottom’s ass’s head. The two young couples join the royal couple in getting married, and Bottom rejoins his friends to perform the play.
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in
Another moon. But, O, methinks how slow
This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires
5 Like to a stepdame or a dowager
Long withering out a young man’s revenue.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
10 New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
THESEUS Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments.
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.
15 Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp.
Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword
And won thy love doing thee injuries,
But I will wed thee in another key,
20 With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling.
Happy be Theseus, our renownèd duke!
Thanks, good Egeus. What’s the news with thee?
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—
25 Stand forth, Demetrius.—My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.—
Stand forth, Lysander.—And, my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.—
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes
30 And interchanged love tokens with my child.
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung
With feigning voice verses of feigning love
And stol’n the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
35 Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats—messengers
Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth.
With cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart,
Turned her obedience (which is due to me)
To stubborn harshness.—And, my gracious duke,
40 Be it so she will not here before your Grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens:
As she is mine, I may dispose of her,
Which shall be either to this gentleman
45 Or to her death, according to our law
Immediately provided in that case.
What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid.
To you, your father should be as a god,
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
50 To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
So is Lysander.
THESEUS 55 In himself he is,
But in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,
The other must be held the worthier.
I would my father looked but with my eyes.
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
60 I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concern my modesty
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
But I beseech your Grace that I may know
65 The worst that may befall me in this case
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Either to die the death or to abjure
Forever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
70 Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether (if you yield not to your father’s choice)
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,
To live a barren sister all your life,
75 Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage,
But earthlier happy is the rose distilled
Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
80 Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his Lordship whose unwishèd yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
85 Take time to pause, and by the next new moon
(The sealing day betwixt my love and me
For everlasting bond of fellowship),
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father’s will,
90 Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,
Or on Diana’s altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.
Relent, sweet Hermia, and, Lysander, yield
Thy crazèd title to my certain right.
95 You have her father’s love, Demetrius.
Let me have Hermia’s. Do you marry him.
Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love;
And what is mine my love shall render him.
And she is mine, and all my right of her
100 I do estate unto Demetrius.
LYSANDER , to Theseus
I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possessed. My love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly ranked
(If not with vantage) as Demetrius’;
105 And (which is more than all these boasts can be)
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,
110 And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
I must confess that I have heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
115 But, being overfull of self-affairs,
My mind did lose it.—But, Demetrius, come,
And come, Egeus; you shall go with me.
I have some private schooling for you both.—
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
120 To fit your fancies to your father’s will,
Or else the law of Athens yields you up
(Which by no means we may extenuate)
To death or to a vow of single life.—
Come, my Hippolyta. What cheer, my love?—
125 Demetrius and Egeus, go along.
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
With duty and desire we follow you.
All but Hermia and Lysander exit.
130 How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
135 Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
But either it was different in blood—
O cross! Too high to be enthralled to low.
Or else misgraffèd in respect of years—
140 O spite! Too old to be engaged to young.
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—
O hell, to choose love by another’s eyes!
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
145 Making it momentany as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and Earth,
And, ere a man hath power to say “Behold!”
150 The jaws of darkness do devour it up.
So quick bright things come to confusion.
If then true lovers have been ever crossed,
It stands as an edict in destiny.
Then let us teach our trial patience
155 Because it is a customary cross,
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers.
A good persuasion. Therefore, hear me, Hermia:
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
160 Of great revenue, and she hath no child.
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues,
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
165 Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me, then
Steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night,
And in the wood a league without the town
(Where I did meet thee once with Helena
To do observance to a morn of May),
170 There will I stay for thee.
HERMIA My good Lysander,
I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
175 By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen
When the false Trojan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke
(In number more than ever women spoke),
180 In that same place thou hast appointed me,
Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.
Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.
Godspeed, fair Helena. Whither away?
Call you me “fair”? That “fair” again unsay.
185 Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
Your eyes are lodestars and your tongue’s sweet air
More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching. O, were favor so!
190 Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye;
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
195 The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart!
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
O, that your frowns would teach my smiles such
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
O, that my prayers could such affection move!
The more I hate, the more he follows me.
The more I love, the more he hateth me.
205 His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine!
Take comfort: he no more shall see my face.
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see
210 Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell
That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell!
Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.
Tomorrow night when Phoebe doth behold
215 Her silver visage in the wat’ry glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass
(A time that lovers’ flights doth still conceal),
Through Athens’ gates have we devised to steal.
And in the wood where often you and I
220 Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet
And thence from Athens turn away our eyes
To seek new friends and stranger companies.
225 Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us,
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.—
Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight
From lovers’ food till morrow deep midnight.
I will, my Hermia. Hermia exits.
230 Helena, adieu.
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!
How happy some o’er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.
235 He will not know what all but he do know.
And, as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
240 Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind;
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste.
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child
245 Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.
For, ere Demetrius looked on Hermia’s eyne,
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine;
250 And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and show’rs of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight.
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her. And, for this intelligence
255 If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.
QUINCE Is all our company here?
BOTTOM You were best to call them generally, man by
man, according to the scrip.
QUINCE Here is the scroll of every man’s name which
5 is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
interlude before the Duke and the Duchess on his
wedding day at night.
BOTTOM First, good Peter Quince, say what the play
treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so
10 grow to a point.
QUINCE Marry, our play is “The most lamentable
comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and
BOTTOM A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
15 merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your
actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.
QUINCE Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
BOTTOM Ready. Name what part I am for, and
QUINCE 20You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
BOTTOM What is Pyramus—a lover or a tyrant?
QUINCE A lover that kills himself most gallant for love.
BOTTOM That will ask some tears in the true performing
of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their
25 eyes. I will move storms; I will condole in some
measure. To the rest.—Yet my chief humor is for a
tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a
cat in, to make all split:
Of prison gates.
And Phibbus’ car
Shall shine from far
35 And make and mar
The foolish Fates.
This was lofty. Now name the rest of the players.
This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein. A lover is more
QUINCE 40Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
FLUTE Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.
FLUTE What is Thisbe—a wand’ring knight?
QUINCE It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
FLUTE 45Nay, faith, let not me play a woman. I have a
QUINCE That’s all one. You shall play it in a mask, and
you may speak as small as you will.
BOTTOM An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too.
50 I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice: “Thisne,
Thisne!”—“Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! Thy Thisbe
dear and lady dear!”
QUINCE No, no, you must play Pyramus—and, Flute,
BOTTOM 55Well, proceed.
QUINCE Robin Starveling, the tailor.
STARVELING Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe’s
mother.—Tom Snout, the tinker.
SNOUT 60Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE You, Pyramus’ father.—Myself, Thisbe’s
father.—Snug the joiner, you the lion’s part.—
And I hope here is a play fitted.
SNUG Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it
65 be, give it me, for I am slow of study.
QUINCE You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but
BOTTOM Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will
do any man’s heart good to hear me. I will roar that
70 I will make the Duke say “Let him roar again. Let
him roar again!”
QUINCE An you should do it too terribly, you would
fright the Duchess and the ladies that they would
shriek, and that were enough to hang us all.
ALL 75That would hang us, every mother’s son.
BOTTOM I grant you, friends, if you should fright the
ladies out of their wits, they would have no more
discretion but to hang us. But I will aggravate my
voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking
80 dove. I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale.
QUINCE You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus
is a sweet-faced man, a proper man as one
shall see in a summer’s day, a most lovely gentlemanlike
man. Therefore you must needs play
BOTTOM Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I
best to play it in?
QUINCE Why, what you will.
BOTTOM I will discharge it in either your straw-color
90 beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
beard, or your French-crown-color beard,
your perfit yellow.
QUINCE Some of your French crowns have no hair at
all, and then you will play barefaced. But, masters,
95 here are your parts, giving out the parts, and I am
to entreat you, request you, and desire you to con
them by tomorrow night and meet me in the palace
wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight. There
will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city, we shall
100 be dogged with company and our devices known. In
the meantime I will draw a bill of properties such as
our play wants. I pray you fail me not.
BOTTOM We will meet, and there we may rehearse
How now, spirit? Whither wander you?
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
5 Thorough flood, thorough fire;
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
10 The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favors;
In those freckles live their savors.
I must go seek some dewdrops here
15 And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits. I’ll be gone.
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
The King doth keep his revels here tonight.
Take heed the Queen come not within his sight,
20 For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling.
And jealous Oberon would have the child
25 Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her
And now they never meet in grove or green,
30 By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen,
But they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.
Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
35 Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery,
Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
And bootless make the breathless huswife churn,
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
40 Mislead night wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that “Hobgoblin” call you and “sweet Puck,”
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
Are not you he?
ROBIN Thou speakest aright.
45 I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
50 In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
55 Then slip I from her bum, down topples she
And “Tailor!” cries and falls into a cough,
And then the whole choir hold their hips and loffe
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
60 But room, fairy. Here comes Oberon.
And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!
Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
What, jealous Oberon? Fairies, skip hence.
I have forsworn his bed and company.
65 Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord?
Then I must be thy lady. But I know
When thou hast stolen away from Fairyland
And in the shape of Corin sat all day
Playing on pipes of corn and versing love
70 To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest steep of India,
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskined mistress and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
75 To give their bed joy and prosperity?
How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
Didst not thou lead him through the glimmering
From Perigouna, whom he ravishèd,
And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,
With Ariadne and Antiopa?
These are the forgeries of jealousy;
85 And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
90 But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which, falling in the land,
Hath every pelting river made so proud
95 That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The plowman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
100 And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here.
105 No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
110 The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
115 The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world
By their increase now knows not which is which.
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
120 We are their parents and original.
Do you amend it, then. It lies in you.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy
To be my henchman.
TITANIA 125 Set your heart at rest:
The Fairyland buys not the child of me.
His mother was a vot’ress of my order,
And in the spicèd Indian air by night
Full often hath she gossiped by my side
130 And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands,
Marking th’ embarkèd traders on the flood,
When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait,
135 Following (her womb then rich with my young
Would imitate and sail upon the land
To fetch me trifles and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
140 But she, being mortal, of that boy did die,
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him.
How long within this wood intend you stay?
Perchance till after Theseus’ wedding day.
145 If you will patiently dance in our round
And see our moonlight revels, go with us.
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Give me that boy and I will go with thee.
Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away.
150 We shall chide downright if I longer stay.
Titania and her fairies exit.
Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.—
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememb’rest
Since once I sat upon a promontory
155 And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.
ROBIN 160 I remember.
That very time I saw (but thou couldst not),
Flying between the cold moon and the Earth,
Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
At a fair vestal thronèd by the west,
165 And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon,
And the imperial vot’ress passèd on
170 In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it “love-in-idleness.”
175 Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once.
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
180 Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
I’ll put a girdle round about the Earth
In forty minutes. He exits.
OBERON Having once this juice,
I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep
185 And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
The next thing then she, waking, looks upon
(Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape)
She shall pursue it with the soul of love.
190 And ere I take this charm from off her sight
(As I can take it with another herb),
I’ll make her render up her page to me.
But who comes here? I am invisible,
And I will overhear their conference.
195 I love thee not; therefore pursue me not.
Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
The one I’ll stay; the other stayeth me.
Thou told’st me they were stol’n unto this wood,
And here am I, and wood within this wood
200 Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.
You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,
205 And I shall have no power to follow you.
Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
Or rather do I not in plainest truth
Tell you I do not, nor I cannot love you?
And even for that do I love you the more.
210 I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel: spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave
(Unworthy as I am) to follow you.
215 What worser place can I beg in your love
(And yet a place of high respect with me)
Than to be usèd as you use your dog?
Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit,
For I am sick when I do look on thee.
220 And I am sick when I look not on you.
You do impeach your modesty too much
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not,
To trust the opportunity of night
225 And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.
Your virtue is my privilege. For that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night.
230 Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you, in my respect, are all the world.
Then, how can it be said I am alone
When all the world is here to look on me?
I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes
235 And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will. The story shall be changed:
Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
240 Makes speed to catch the tiger. Bootless speed
When cowardice pursues and valor flies!
I will not stay thy questions. Let me go,
Or if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.
245 Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.
We cannot fight for love as men may do.
We should be wooed and were not made to woo.
250 I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell
To die upon the hand I love so well. Helena exits.
Fare thee well, nymph. Ere he do leave this grove,
Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.
Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.
255 Ay, there it is.
OBERON I pray thee give it me.
Robin gives him the flower.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
260 With sweet muskroses, and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.
And there the snake throws her enameled skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
265 And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes
And make her full of hateful fantasies.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove.
He gives Robin part of the flower.
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth. Anoint his eyes,
270 But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
Effect it with some care, that he may prove
More fond on her than she upon her love.
275 And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.
Fear not, my lord. Your servant shall do so.
Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence—
Some to kill cankers in the muskrose buds,
Some war with reremice for their leathern wings
5 To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep.
Then to your offices and let me rest. She lies down.
You spotted snakes with double tongue,
10 Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen.
Newts and blindworms, do no wrong,
Come not near our Fairy Queen.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby.
15 Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely lady nigh.
So good night, with lullaby.
20 Weaving spiders, come not here.
Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence.
Beetles black, approach not near.
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Philomel, with melody
25 Sing in our sweet lullaby.
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely lady nigh.
30 So good night, with lullaby.
Hence, away! Now all is well.
One aloof stand sentinel. Fairies exit.
What thou seest when thou dost wake
Do it for thy true love take.
35 Love and languish for his sake.
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wak’st, it is thy dear.
40 Wake when some vile thing is near. He exits.
Fair love, you faint with wand’ring in the wood.
And, to speak troth, I have forgot our way.
We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,
And tarry for the comfort of the day.
45 Be it so, Lysander. Find you out a bed,
For I upon this bank will rest my head.
One turf shall serve as pillow for us both;
One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.
Nay, good Lysander. For my sake, my dear,
50 Lie further off yet. Do not lie so near.
O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean that my heart unto yours is knit,
So that but one heart we can make of it;
55 Two bosoms interchainèd with an oath—
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
Then by your side no bed-room me deny,
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.
Lysander riddles very prettily.
60 Now much beshrew my manners and my pride
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy,
Lie further off in human modesty.
Such separation, as may well be said,
65 Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid.
So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend.
Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!
“Amen, amen” to that fair prayer, say I,
And then end life when I end loyalty!
70 Here is my bed. Sleep give thee all his rest!
Through the forest have I gone,
But Athenian found I none
On whose eyes I might approve
75 This flower’s force in stirring love.
He sees Lysander.
Night and silence! Who is here?
Weeds of Athens he doth wear.
This is he my master said
Despisèd the Athenian maid.
80 And here the maiden, sleeping sound
On the dank and dirty ground.
Pretty soul, she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.—
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
85 All the power this charm doth owe.
He anoints Lysander’s eyelids
with the nectar.
When thou wak’st, let love forbid
Sleep his seat on thy eyelid.
So, awake when I am gone,
For I must now to Oberon. He exits.
Stay, on thy peril. I alone will go. Demetrius exits.
O, I am out of breath in this fond chase.
95 The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.
Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies,
For she hath blessèd and attractive eyes.
How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears.
If so, my eyes are oftener washed than hers.
100 No, no, I am as ugly as a bear,
For beasts that meet me run away for fear.
Therefore no marvel though Demetrius
Do as a monster fly my presence thus.
What wicked and dissembling glass of mine
105 Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne?
But who is here? Lysander, on the ground!
Dead or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.—
Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.
LYSANDER , waking up
And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake.
110 Transparent Helena! Nature shows art,
That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word
Is that vile name to perish on my sword!
Do not say so. Lysander, say not so.
115 What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what
Yet Hermia still loves you. Then be content.
Content with Hermia? No, I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
120 Not Hermia, but Helena I love.
Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason swayed,
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season;
125 So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason.
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshal to my will
And leads me to your eyes, where I o’erlook
Love’s stories written in love’s richest book.
130 Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?
Is ’t not enough, is ’t not enough, young man,
That I did never, no, nor never can
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius’ eye,
135 But you must flout my insufficiency?
Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,
In such disdainful manner me to woo.
But fare you well. Perforce I must confess
I thought you lord of more true gentleness.
140 O, that a lady of one man refused
Should of another therefore be abused! She exits.
She sees not Hermia.—Hermia, sleep thou there,
And never mayst thou come Lysander near.
For, as a surfeit of the sweetest things
145 The deepest loathing to the stomach brings,
Or as the heresies that men do leave
Are hated most of those they did deceive,
So thou, my surfeit and my heresy,
Of all be hated, but the most of me!
150 And, all my powers, address your love and might
To honor Helen and to be her knight. He exits.
HERMIA , waking up
Help me, Lysander, help me! Do thy best
To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast.
Ay me, for pity! What a dream was here!
155 Lysander, look how I do quake with fear.
Methought a serpent ate my heart away,
And you sat smiling at his cruel prey.
Lysander! What, removed? Lysander, lord!
What, out of hearing? Gone? No sound, no word?
160 Alack, where are you? Speak, an if you hear.
Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear.—
No? Then I well perceive you are not nigh.
Either death or you I’ll find immediately.
BOTTOM Are we all met?
QUINCE Pat, pat. And here’s a marvels convenient
place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be
our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring-house,
5 and we will do it in action as we will do it before
BOTTOM Peter Quince?
QUINCE What sayest thou, bully Bottom?
BOTTOM There are things in this comedy of Pyramus
10 and Thisbe that will never please. First, Pyramus
must draw a sword to kill himself, which the ladies
cannot abide. How answer you that?
SNOUT By ’r lakin, a parlous fear.
STARVELING I believe we must leave the killing out,
15 when all is done.
BOTTOM Not a whit! I have a device to make all well.
Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to
say we will do no harm with our swords and that
Pyramus is not killed indeed. And, for the more
20 better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not
Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver. This will put them
out of fear.
QUINCE Well, we will have such a prologue, and it shall
be written in eight and six.
BOTTOM 25No, make it two more. Let it be written in
eight and eight.
SNOUT Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
STARVELING I fear it, I promise you.
BOTTOM Masters, you ought to consider with yourself,
30 to bring in (God shield us!) a lion among ladies is a
most dreadful thing. For there is not a more fearful
wildfowl than your lion living, and we ought to look
SNOUT Therefore another prologue must tell he is not
35 a lion.
BOTTOM Nay, you must name his name, and half his
face must be seen through the lion’s neck, and he
himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the
same defect: “Ladies,” or “Fair ladies, I would
40 wish you,” or “I would request you,” or “I would
entreat you not to fear, not to tremble! My life for
yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were
pity of my life. No, I am no such thing. I am a man as
other men are.” And there indeed let him name his
45 name and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.
QUINCE Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard
things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber,
for you know Pyramus and Thisbe meet by
SNOUT 50Doth the moon shine that night we play our
BOTTOM A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac.
Find out moonshine, find out moonshine.
Quince takes out a book.
QUINCE Yes, it doth shine that night.
BOTTOM 55Why, then, may you leave a casement of the
great chamber window, where we play, open, and
the moon may shine in at the casement.
QUINCE Ay, or else one must come in with a bush of
thorns and a lantern and say he comes to disfigure
60 or to present the person of Moonshine. Then there
is another thing: we must have a wall in the great
chamber, for Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story,
did talk through the chink of a wall.
SNOUT You can never bring in a wall. What say you,
BOTTOM Some man or other must present Wall. And
let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some
roughcast about him to signify wall, or let him
hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall
70 Pyramus and Thisbe whisper.
QUINCE If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down,
every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus,
you begin. When you have spoken your
speech, enter into that brake, and so everyone
75 according to his cue.
ROBIN , aside
What hempen homespuns have we swagg’ring here
So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?
What, a play toward? I’ll be an auditor—
An actor too perhaps, if I see cause.
QUINCE 80Speak, Pyramus.—Thisbe, stand forth.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
Thisbe, the flowers of odious savors sweet—
QUINCE Odors, odors!
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
…odors savors sweet.
So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear.—
85 But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here awhile,
And by and by I will to thee appear. He exits.
ROBIN , aside
A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here. He exits.
FLUTE Must I speak now?
QUINCE Ay, marry, must you, for you must understand
90 he goes but to see a noise that he heard and is to
FLUTE , as Thisbe
Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier,
Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,
95 As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.
I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.
QUINCE “Ninus’ tomb,” man! Why, you must not
speak that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You
speak all your part at once, cues and all.—Pyramus,
100 enter. Your cue is past. It is “never tire.”
As Thisbe. As true as truest horse, that yet would never
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
If I were fair, fair Thisbe, I were only thine.
QUINCE 105O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray,
masters, fly, masters! Help!
Quince, Flute, Snout, Snug, and Starveling exit.
I’ll follow you. I’ll lead you about a round,
Through bog, through bush, through brake,
110 Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire,
And neigh and bark and grunt and roar and burn,
Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.
BOTTOM Why do they run away? This is a knavery of
115 them to make me afeard.
QUINCE 120Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art
translated! He exits.
BOTTOM I see their knavery. This is to make an ass of
me, to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir
from this place, do what they can. I will walk up
125 and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear
I am not afraid.
He sings. The ouzel cock, so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
130 The wren with little quill—
TITANIA , waking up
What angel wakes me from my flow’ry bed?
The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plainsong cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark
135 And dares not answer “nay”—
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a
bird? Who would give a bird the lie though he cry
“cuckoo” never so?
I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
140 Mine ear is much enamored of thy note,
So is mine eye enthrallèd to thy shape,
And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me
On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.
BOTTOM Methinks, mistress, you should have little
145 reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason
and love keep little company together nowadays.
The more the pity that some honest neighbors will
not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon
150 Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
BOTTOM Not so neither; but if I had wit enough to get
out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own
Out of this wood do not desire to go.
155 Thou shalt remain here whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate.
The summer still doth tend upon my state,
And I do love thee. Therefore go with me.
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
160 And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep
And sing while thou on pressèd flowers dost sleep.
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.—
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed!
COBWEB And I.
MOTE And I.
MUSTARDSEED And I.
ALL Where shall we go?
170 Be kind and courteous to this gentleman.
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
175 And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glowworms’ eyes
To have my love to bed and to arise;
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes.
180 Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.
PEASEBLOSSOM Hail, mortal!
BOTTOM 185I cry your Worships mercy, heartily.—I beseech
your Worship’s name.
BOTTOM I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good
Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make
190 bold with you.—Your name, honest gentleman?
BOTTOM I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash,
your mother, and to Master Peascod, your father.
Good Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of
195 more acquaintance too.—Your name, I beseech
BOTTOM Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience
well. That same cowardly, giantlike ox-beef
200 hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I
promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes
water ere now. I desire you of more acquaintance,
good Master Mustardseed.
Come, wait upon him. Lead him to my bower.
205 The moon, methinks, looks with a wat’ry eye,
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
Lamenting some enforcèd chastity.
Tie up my lover’s tongue. Bring him silently.
I wonder if Titania be awaked;
Then what it was that next came in her eye,
Which she must dote on in extremity.
Here comes my messenger. How now, mad spirit?
5 What night-rule now about this haunted grove?
My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
10 That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented in their sport,
15 Forsook his scene and entered in a brake.
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s noll I fixèd on his head.
Anon his Thisbe must be answerèd,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
20 As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
So at his sight away his fellows fly,
25 And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls.
He “Murder” cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
30 For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch,
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things
I led them on in this distracted fear
And left sweet Pyramus translated there.
35 When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.
This falls out better than I could devise.
But hast thou yet latched the Athenian’s eyes
With the love juice, as I did bid thee do?
40 I took him sleeping—that is finished, too—
And the Athenian woman by his side,
That, when he waked, of force she must be eyed.
Stand close. This is the same Athenian.
This is the woman, but not this the man.
They step aside.
45 O, why rebuke you him that loves you so?
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe!
Now I but chide, but I should use thee worse,
For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse.
If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
50 Being o’er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep
And kill me too.
The sun was not so true unto the day
As he to me. Would he have stolen away
From sleeping Hermia? I’ll believe as soon
55 This whole Earth may be bored, and that the moon
May through the center creep and so displease
Her brother’s noontide with th’ Antipodes.
It cannot be but thou hast murdered him.
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.
60 So should the murdered look, and so should I,
Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty.
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear,
As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
What’s this to my Lysander? Where is he?
65 Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.
Out, dog! Out, cur! Thou driv’st me past the bounds
Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him, then?
Henceforth be never numbered among men.
70 O, once tell true! Tell true, even for my sake!
Durst thou have looked upon him, being awake?
And hast thou killed him sleeping? O brave touch!
Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?
An adder did it, for with doubler tongue
75 Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
You spend your passion on a misprised mood.
I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood,
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.
I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
80 An if I could, what should I get therefor?
A privilege never to see me more.
And from thy hated presence part I so.
See me no more, whether he be dead or no.
There is no following her in this fierce vein.
85 Here, therefore, for a while I will remain.
So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow
For debt that bankrout sleep doth sorrow owe,
Which now in some slight measure it will pay,
If for his tender here I make some stay.
He lies down and falls asleep.
OBERON , to Robin
90 What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite
And laid the love juice on some true-love’s sight.
Of thy misprision must perforce ensue
Some true-love turned, and not a false turned true.
Then fate o’errules, that, one man holding troth,
95 A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
About the wood go swifter than the wind,
And Helena of Athens look thou find.
All fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer
With sighs of love that costs the fresh blood dear.
100 By some illusion see thou bring her here.
I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear.
ROBIN I go, I go, look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow. He exits.
OBERON , applying the nectar to Demetrius’ eyes
Flower of this purple dye,
105 Hit with Cupid’s archery,
Sink in apple of his eye.
When his love he doth espy,
Let her shine as gloriously
As the Venus of the sky.—
110 When thou wak’st, if she be by,
Beg of her for remedy.
Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
115 Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!
Stand aside. The noise they make
Will cause Demetrius to awake.
120 Then will two at once woo one.
That must needs be sport alone.
And those things do best please me
That befall prepost’rously.
They step aside.
Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
125 Scorn and derision never come in tears.
Look when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,
In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?
130 You do advance your cunning more and more.
When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s. Will you give her o’er?
Weigh oath with oath and you will nothing
135 Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.
I had no judgment when to her I swore.
Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.
Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
DEMETRIUS , waking up
140 O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealèd white, high Taurus’ snow,
145 Fanned with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold’st up thy hand. O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment.
150 If you were civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
155 You would not use a gentle lady so,
To vow and swear and superpraise my parts,
When, I am sure, you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals and love Hermia,
And now both rivals to mock Helena.
160 A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes
With your derision! None of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin and extort
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.
165 You are unkind, Demetrius. Be not so,
For you love Hermia; this you know I know.
And here with all goodwill, with all my heart,
In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part.
And yours of Helena to me bequeath,
170 Whom I do love and will do till my death.
Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
Lysander, keep thy Hermia. I will none.
If e’er I loved her, all that love is gone.
My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourned,
175 And now to Helen is it home returned,
There to remain.
LYSANDER Helen, it is not so.
Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,
Lest to thy peril thou aby it dear.
180 Look where thy love comes. Yonder is thy dear.
HERMIA , to Lysander
Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,
The ear more quick of apprehension makes;
Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,
It pays the hearing double recompense.
185 Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;
Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound.
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
Why should he stay whom love doth press to go?
What love could press Lysander from my side?
190 Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,
Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.
Why seek’st thou me? Could not this make thee
195 The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?
You speak not as you think. It cannot be.
Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoined all three
To fashion this false sport in spite of me.—
200 Injurious Hermia, most ungrateful maid,
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived,
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent
205 When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us—O, is all forgot?
All schooldays’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
210 Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds
Had been incorporate. So we grew together
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
215 But yet an union in partition,
Two lovely berries molded on one stem;
So with two seeming bodies but one heart,
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one, and crownèd with one crest.
220 And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly; ’tis not maidenly.
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
225 I am amazèd at your words.
I scorn you not. It seems that you scorn me.
Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face,
And made your other love, Demetrius,
230 Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,
To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? And wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love (so rich within his soul)
235 And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most, to love unloved?
240 This you should pity rather than despise.
I understand not what you mean by this.
Ay, do. Persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back,
Wink each at other, hold the sweet jest up.
245 This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare you well. ’Tis partly my own fault,
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
250 Stay, gentle Helena. Hear my excuse,
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena.
HERMIA , to Lysander
Sweet, do not scorn her so.
DEMETRIUS , to Lysander
If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
255 Thou canst compel no more than she entreat.
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak
Helen, I love thee. By my life, I do.
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
260 To prove him false that says I love thee not.
I say I love thee more than he can do.
If thou say so, withdraw and prove it too.
HERMIA Lysander, whereto tends all this?
She takes hold of Lysander.
265 Away, you Ethiop!
DEMETRIUS , to Hermia
No, no. He’ll
Seem to break loose. To Lysander. Take on as you
But yet come not. You are a tame man, go!
LYSANDER , to Hermia
270 Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
Why are you grown so rude? What change is this,
LYSANDER Thy love? Out, tawny Tartar, out!
275 Out, loathèd med’cine! O, hated potion, hence!
Do you not jest?
HELENA Yes, sooth, and so do you.
Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
I would I had your bond. For I perceive
280 A weak bond holds you. I’ll not trust your word.
What? Should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.
What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me? Wherefore? O me, what news, my love?
285 Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left
Why, then, you left me—O, the gods forbid!—
290 In earnest, shall I say?
LYSANDER Ay, by my life,
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt.
Be certain, nothing truer, ’tis no jest
295 That I do hate thee and love Helena.
Hermia turns him loose.
O me! To Helena. You juggler, you cankerblossom,
You thief of love! What, have you come by night
And stol’n my love’s heart from him?
HELENA Fine, i’ faith.
300 Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie, you counterfeit, you puppet, you!
“Puppet”? Why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
305 Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urged her height,
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem
310 Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak!
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
315 Let her not hurt me. I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness.
I am a right maid for my cowardice.
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
320 That I can match her.
HERMIA “Lower”? Hark, again!
Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you—
325 Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He followed you; for love, I followed him.
But he hath chid me hence and threatened me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too.
330 And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back
And follow you no further. Let me go.
You see how simple and how fond I am.
Why, get you gone. Who is ’t that hinders you?
335 A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
What, with Lysander?
HELENA With Demetrius.
Be not afraid. She shall not harm thee, Helena.
No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
340 O, when she is angry, she is keen and shrewd.
She was a vixen when she went to school,
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
“Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”?
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
345 Let me come to her.
LYSANDER Get you gone, you dwarf,
You minimus of hind’ring knotgrass made,
You bead, you acorn—
DEMETRIUS You are too officious
350 In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone. Speak not of Helena.
Take not her part. For if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.
LYSANDER 355 Now she holds me not.
Now follow, if thou dar’st, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
“Follow”? Nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
Demetrius and Lysander exit.
You, mistress, all this coil is long of you.
360 Nay, go not back.
HELENA I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray.
My legs are longer though, to run away. She exits.
365 I am amazed and know not what to say. She exits.
OBERON , to Robin
This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak’st,
Or else committ’st thy knaveries willfully.
Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
370 By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise
That I have ’nointed an Athenian’s eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort,
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
375 Thou seest these lovers seek a place to fight.
Hie, therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog as black as Acheron,
And lead these testy rivals so astray
380 As one come not within another’s way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue;
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong.
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius.
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
385 Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye,
He gives a flower to Robin.
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might
390 And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision.
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,
With league whose date till death shall never end.
395 Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I’ll to my queen and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmèd eye release
From monster’s view, and all things shall be peace.
My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
400 For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger,
At whose approach, ghosts wand’ring here and
Troop home to churchyards. Damnèd spirits all,
405 That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone.
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They willfully themselves exile from light
And must for aye consort with black-browed night.
410 But we are spirits of another sort.
I with the Morning’s love have oft made sport
And, like a forester, the groves may tread
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessèd beams,
415 Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.
But notwithstanding, haste! Make no delay.
We may effect this business yet ere day. He exits.
Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
420 I am feared in field and town.
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.
Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.
ROBIN , in Demetrius’ voice
Here, villain, drawn and ready. Where art thou?
LYSANDER 425I will be with thee straight.
ROBIN , in Demetrius’ voice Follow me, then, to
plainer ground. Lysander exits.
ROBIN , in Lysander’s voice
Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant! Come, thou
I’ll whip thee with a rod. He is defiled
That draws a sword on thee.
DEMETRIUS Yea, art thou there?
ROBIN , in Lysander’s voice
Follow my voice. We’ll try no manhood here.
440 He goes before me and still dares me on.
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter-heeled than I.
I followed fast, but faster he did fly,
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
445 And here will rest me. Come, thou gentle day,
For if but once thou show me thy gray light,
I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.
He lies down and sleeps.
ROBIN , in Lysander’s voice
Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com’st thou not?
Abide me, if thou dar’st, for well I wot
450 Thou runn’st before me, shifting every place,
And dar’st not stand nor look me in the face.
Where art thou now?
ROBIN , in Lysander’s voice
Come hither. I am here.
Nay, then, thou mock’st me. Thou shalt buy this
460 O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hours! Shine, comforts, from the east,
That I may back to Athens by daylight
From these that my poor company detest.
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,
465 Steal me awhile from mine own company.
She lies down and sleeps.
Yet but three? Come one more.
Two of both kinds makes up four.
Here she comes, curst and sad.
Cupid is a knavish lad
470 Thus to make poor females mad.
Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew and torn with briers,
I can no further crawl, no further go.
My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
475 Here will I rest me till the break of day.
Heavens shield Lysander if they mean a fray!
She lies down and sleeps.
On the ground
480 To your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy.
Robin applies the nectar
to Lysander’s eyes.
When thou wak’st,
485 In the sight
Of thy former lady’s eye.
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown.
490 Jack shall have Jill;
Naught shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be
Come, sit thee down upon this flow’ry bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick muskroses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
BOTTOM 5Where’s Peaseblossom?
BOTTOM Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where’s
BOTTOM 10Monsieur Cobweb, good monsieur, get you
your weapons in your hand and kill me a red-hipped
humble-bee on the top of a thistle, and, good
monsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, monsieur, and,
15 good monsieur, have a care the honey-bag break
not; I would be loath to have you overflown with a
honey-bag, signior. Cobweb exits. Where’s Monsieur
BOTTOM 20Give me your neaf, Monsieur Mustardseed.
Pray you, leave your courtesy, good monsieur.
MUSTARDSEED What’s your will?
BOTTOM Nothing, good monsieur, but to help Cavalery
Cobweb to scratch. I must to the barber’s,
25 monsieur, for methinks I am marvels hairy about
the face. And I am such a tender ass, if my hair do
but tickle me, I must scratch.
What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?
BOTTOM I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let’s
30 have the tongs and the bones.
Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.
BOTTOM Truly, a peck of provender. I could munch
your good dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire
to a bottle of hay. Good hay, sweet hay, hath no
I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel’s hoard and fetch thee new nuts.
BOTTOM I had rather have a handful or two of dried
peas. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir
40 me; I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.—
Fairies, begone, and be all ways away.
So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
45 Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O, how I love thee! How I dote on thee!
Bottom and Titania sleep.
Her dotage now I do begin to pity.
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
50 Seeking sweet favors for this hateful fool,
I did upbraid her and fall out with her.
For she his hairy temples then had rounded
With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;
And that same dew, which sometime on the buds
55 Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls,
Stood now within the pretty flouriets’ eyes,
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.
When I had at my pleasure taunted her,
And she in mild terms begged my patience,
60 I then did ask of her her changeling child,
Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in Fairyland.
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes.
65 And, gentle Puck, take this transformèd scalp
From off the head of this Athenian swain,
That he, awaking when the other do,
May all to Athens back again repair
And think no more of this night’s accidents
70 But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
But first I will release the Fairy Queen.
He applies the nectar to her eyes.
Be as thou wast wont to be.
See as thou wast wont to see.
Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower
75 Hath such force and blessèd power.
Now, my Titania, wake you, my sweet queen.
TITANIA , waking
My Oberon, what visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamored of an ass.
There lies your love.
TITANIA 80 How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!
Silence awhile.—Robin, take off this head.—
Titania, music call; and strike more dead
Than common sleep of all these five the sense.
85 Music, ho, music such as charmeth sleep!
ROBIN , removing the ass-head from Bottom
Now, when thou wak’st, with thine own fool’s eyes
Sound music. Music.
Come, my queen, take hands with me,
90 And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Titania and Oberon dance.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will tomorrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus’ house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity.
95 There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.
Fairy king, attend and mark.
I do hear the morning lark.
Then, my queen, in silence sad
100 Trip we after night’s shade.
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wand’ring moon.
Come, my lord, and in our flight
Tell me how it came this night
105 That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground.
Oberon, Robin, and Titania exit.
Go, one of you, find out the Forester.
For now our observation is performed,
And, since we have the vaward of the day,
110 My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go.
Dispatch, I say, and find the Forester.
A Servant exits.
We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top
And mark the musical confusion
115 Of hounds and echo in conjunction.
I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
When in a wood of Crete they bayed the bear
With hounds of Sparta. Never did I hear
Such gallant chiding, for, besides the groves,
120 The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flewed, so sanded; and their heads are hung
125 With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-kneed, and dewlapped like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but matched in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tunable
Was never holloed to, nor cheered with horn,
130 In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.
Judge when you hear.—But soft! What nymphs are
My lord, this is my daughter here asleep,
And this Lysander; this Demetrius is,
135 This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena.
I wonder of their being here together.
No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May, and hearing our intent,
Came here in grace of our solemnity.
140 But speak, Egeus. Is not this the day
That Hermia should give answer of her choice?
EGEUS It is, my lord.
Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.
A Servant exits.
Shout within. Wind horns. They all start up.
Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past.
145 Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?
Demetrius, Helena, Hermia, and Lysander kneel.
Pardon, my lord.
THESEUS I pray you all, stand up.
I know you two are rival enemies.
How comes this gentle concord in the world,
150 That hatred is so far from jealousy
To sleep by hate and fear no enmity?
My lord, I shall reply amazèdly,
Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here.
155 But, as I think—for truly would I speak,
And now I do bethink me, so it is:
I came with Hermia hither. Our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
Without the peril of the Athenian law—
160 Enough, enough!—My lord, you have enough.
I beg the law, the law upon his head.
They would have stol’n away.—They would,
Thereby to have defeated you and me:
165 You of your wife and me of my consent,
Of my consent that she should be your wife.
My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood,
And I in fury hither followed them,
170 Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power
(But by some power it is) my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gaud
175 Which in my childhood I did dote upon,
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betrothed ere I saw Hermia.
180 But like a sickness did I loathe this food.
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will forevermore be true to it.
Fair lovers, you are fortunately met.
185 Of this discourse we more will hear anon.—
Egeus, I will overbear your will,
For in the temple by and by, with us,
These couples shall eternally be knit.—
And, for the morning now is something worn,
190 Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.
Away with us to Athens. Three and three,
We’ll hold a feast in great solemnity.
Theseus and his train,
including Hippolyta and Egeus, exit.
These things seem small and undistinguishable,
195 Like far-off mountains turnèd into clouds.
Methinks I see these things with parted eye,
When everything seems double.
HELENA So methinks.
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
200 Mine own and not mine own.
DEMETRIUS Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The Duke was here and bid us follow him?
205 Yea, and my father.
HELENA And Hippolyta.
And he did bid us follow to the temple.
Why, then, we are awake. Let’s follow him,
And by the way let us recount our dreams.
BOTTOM , waking up 210 When my cue comes, call me,
and I will answer. My next is “Most fair Pyramus.”
Hey-ho! Peter Quince! Flute the bellows-mender!
Snout the tinker! Starveling! God’s my life! Stolen
hence and left me asleep! I have had a most rare
215 vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say
what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about
to expound this dream. Methought I was—there
is no man can tell what. Methought I was and
methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if
220 he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of
man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen,
man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to
conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream
was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this
225 dream. It shall be called “Bottom’s Dream” because
it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the
QUINCE Have you sent to Bottom’s house? Is he come
STARVELING He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt he
FLUTE 5If he come not, then the play is marred. It goes
not forward, doth it?
QUINCE It is not possible. You have not a man in all
Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he.
FLUTE No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraftman
10 in Athens.
QUINCE Yea, and the best person too, and he is a very
paramour for a sweet voice.
FLUTE You must say “paragon.” A “paramour” is (God
bless us) a thing of naught.
SNUG 15Masters, the Duke is coming from the temple,
and there is two or three lords and ladies more
married. If our sport had gone forward, we had all
been made men.
FLUTE O, sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence
20 a day during his life. He could not have
’scaped sixpence a day. An the Duke had not given
him sixpence a day for playing Pyramus, I’ll be
hanged. He would have deserved it. Sixpence a day
in Pyramus, or nothing!
BOTTOM 25Where are these lads? Where are these
QUINCE Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy
BOTTOM Masters, I am to discourse wonders. But ask
30 me not what; for, if I tell you, I am not true
Athenian. I will tell you everything right as it fell
QUINCE Let us hear, sweet Bottom.
BOTTOM Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is that
35 the Duke hath dined. Get your apparel together,
good strings to your beards, new ribbons to your
pumps. Meet presently at the palace. Every man
look o’er his part. For the short and the long is, our
play is preferred. In any case, let Thisbe have clean
40 linen, and let not him that plays the lion pare his
nails, for they shall hang out for the lion’s claws.
And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for
we are to utter sweet breath, and I do not doubt but
to hear them say it is a sweet comedy. No more
45 words. Away! Go, away!
’Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
5 Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:
10 That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to
15 And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination
20 That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
But all the story of the night told over,
25 And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy’s images
And grows to something of great constancy,
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
Here come the lovers full of joy and mirth.—
30 Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
LYSANDER More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
Come now, what masques, what dances shall we
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bedtime?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
40 To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
PHILOSTRATE , coming forward Here, mighty Theseus.
Say what abridgment have you for this evening,
What masque, what music? How shall we beguile
45 The lazy time if not with some delight?
PHILOSTRATE , giving Theseus a paper
There is a brief how many sports are ripe.
Make choice of which your Highness will see first.
“The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.”
50 We’ll none of that. That have I told my love
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
“The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.”
That is an old device, and it was played
55 When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
“The thrice-three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceased in beggary.”
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
60 “A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe, very tragical mirth.”
“Merry” and “tragical”? “Tedious” and “brief”?
That is hot ice and wondrous strange snow!
How shall we find the concord of this discord?
65 A play there is, my lord, some ten words long
(Which is as brief as I have known a play),
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play,
There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
70 And tragical, my noble lord, it is.
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself,
Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.
75 What are they that do play it?
Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labored in their minds till now,
And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.
80 And we will hear it.
PHILOSTRATE No, my noble lord,
It is not for you. I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world,
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
85 Extremely stretched and conned with cruel pain
To do you service.
THESEUS I will hear that play,
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
90 Go, bring them in—and take your places, ladies.
I love not to see wretchedness o’ercharged,
And duty in his service perishing.
Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
He says they can do nothing in this kind.
95 The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake;
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposèd
100 To greet me with premeditated welcomes,
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practiced accent in their fears,
And in conclusion dumbly have broke off,
105 Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome,
And in the modesty of fearful duty,
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
110 Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.
So please your Grace, the Prologue is addressed.
THESEUS Let him approach.
If we offend, it is with our goodwill.
115 That you should think we come not to offend,
But with goodwill. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider, then, we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you,
120 Our true intent is. All for your delight
We are not here. That you should here repent
The actors are at hand, and, by their show,
You shall know all that you are like to know.
THESEUS 125This fellow doth not stand upon points.
LYSANDER He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt;
he knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is
not enough to speak, but to speak true.
HIPPOLYTA Indeed he hath played on this prologue like
130 a child on a recorder—a sound, but not in
THESEUS His speech was like a tangled chain—nothing
impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
135 But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know.
This beauteous lady Thisbe is certain.
This man with lime and roughcast doth present
“Wall,” that vile wall which did these lovers
And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are
To whisper, at the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn,
145 Presenteth “Moonshine,” for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast (which “Lion” hight by name)
The trusty Thisbe coming first by night
150 Did scare away or rather did affright;
And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisbe’s mantle slain.
155 Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast.
And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
160 At large discourse, while here they do remain.
THESEUS I wonder if the lion be to speak.
DEMETRIUS No wonder, my lord. One lion may when
many asses do.
Lion, Thisbe, Moonshine, and Prologue exit.
SNOUT , as Wall
In this same interlude it doth befall
165 That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall as I would have you think
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,
Did whisper often, very secretly.
170 This loam, this roughcast, and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall. The truth is so.
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
THESEUS Would you desire lime and hair to speak
DEMETRIUS It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
discourse, my lord.
THESEUS Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
O grim-looked night! O night with hue so black!
180 O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night! O night! Alack, alack, alack!
I fear my Thisbe’s promise is forgot.
And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
That stand’st between her father’s ground and
Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
Show me thy chink to blink through with mine
Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for
But what see I? No Thisbe do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss,
Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!
THESEUS The wall, methinks, being sensible, should
195 curse again.
BOTTOM No, in truth, sir, he should not. “Deceiving
me” is Thisbe’s cue. She is to enter now, and I am
to spy her through the wall. You shall see it will fall
pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.
For parting my fair Pyramus and me.
My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
I see a voice! Now will I to the chink
205 To spy an I can hear my Thisbe’s face.
FLUTE , as Thisbe
My love! Thou art my love, I think.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace,
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.
FLUTE , as Thisbe
210 And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
FLUTE , as Thisbe
As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.
FLUTE , as Thisbe
I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
215 Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?
FLUTE , as Thisbe
’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.
Bottom and Flute exit.
SNOUT , as Wall
Thus have I, Wall, my part dischargèd so,
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go. He exits.
THESEUS Now is the wall down between the two
DEMETRIUS No remedy, my lord, when walls are so
willful to hear without warning.
HIPPOLYTA This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
THESEUS The best in this kind are but shadows, and
225 the worst are no worse, if imagination amend
HIPPOLYTA It must be your imagination, then, and not
THESEUS If we imagine no worse of them than they of
230 themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here
come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.
SNUG , as Lion
You ladies, you whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on
235 May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, as Snug the joiner, am
A lion fell, nor else no lion’s dam;
For if I should as lion come in strife
240 Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.
THESEUS A very gentle beast, and of a good
DEMETRIUS The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I
LYSANDER 245This lion is a very fox for his valor.
THESEUS True, and a goose for his discretion.
DEMETRIUS Not so, my lord, for his valor cannot carry
his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
THESEUS His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his
250 valor, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well.
Leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the
STARVELING , as Moonshine
This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present.
DEMETRIUS He should have worn the horns on his
THESEUS He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible
within the circumference.
STARVELING , as Moonshine
This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present.
Myself the man i’ th’ moon do seem to be.
THESEUS 260This is the greatest error of all the rest; the
man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else
“the man i’ th’ moon”?
DEMETRIUS He dares not come there for the candle,
for you see, it is already in snuff.
HIPPOLYTA 265I am aweary of this moon. Would he would
THESEUS It appears by his small light of discretion that
he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason,
we must stay the time.
LYSANDER 270Proceed, Moon.
STARVELING , as Moonshine All that I have to say is to tell
you that the lanthorn is the moon, I the man i’ th’
moon, this thornbush my thornbush, and this dog
DEMETRIUS 275Why, all these should be in the lanthorn,
for all these are in the moon. But silence. Here
FLUTE , as Thisbe
This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?
SNUG , as Lion O!
The Lion roars. Thisbe runs off,
dropping her mantle.
DEMETRIUS 280Well roared, Lion.
THESEUS Well run, Thisbe.
HIPPOLYTA Well shone, Moon. Truly, the Moon shines
with a good grace.
Lion worries the mantle.
THESEUS Well moused, Lion.
DEMETRIUS 285And then came Pyramus.
LYSANDER And so the lion vanished.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams.
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright,
For by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
290 I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight.—
But stay! O spite!
But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see!
295 How can it be!
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good—
What, stained with blood?
Approach, ye Furies fell!
300 O Fates, come, come,
Cut thread and thrum,
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!
THESEUS This passion, and the death of a dear friend,
would go near to make a man look sad.
HIPPOLYTA 305Beshrew my heart but I pity the man.
BOTTOM , as Pyramus
O, wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame,
Since lion vile hath here deflowered my dear,
Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame
That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with
Come, tears, confound!
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus;
Ay, that left pap,
315 Where heart doth hop. Pyramus stabs himself.
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead;
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky.
320 Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight! Moonshine exits.
Now die, die, die, die, die. Pyramus falls.
DEMETRIUS No die, but an ace for him, for he is but
LYSANDER 325Less than an ace, man, for he is dead, he is
THESEUS With the help of a surgeon he might yet
recover and yet prove an ass.
HIPPOLYTA How chance Moonshine is gone before
330 Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?
THESEUS She will find him by starlight.
Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.
HIPPOLYTA Methinks she should not use a long one for
such a Pyramus. I hope she will be brief.
DEMETRIUS 335A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus,
which Thisbe, is the better: he for a man, God
warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.
LYSANDER She hath spied him already with those
DEMETRIUS 340And thus she means, videlicet—
FLUTE , as Thisbe
Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise!
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
345 Dead? Dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks
350 Are gone, are gone!
Lovers, make moan;
His eyes were green as leeks.
O Sisters Three,
Come, come to me
355 With hands as pale as milk.
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word!
360 Come, trusty sword,
Come, blade, my breast imbrue!
Thisbe stabs herself.
And farewell, friends.
Thus Thisbe ends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Thisbe falls.
THESEUS 365Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the
DEMETRIUS Ay, and Wall too.
Bottom and Flute arise.
BOTTOM No, I assure you, the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the
370 Epilogue or to hear a Bergomask dance between
two of our company?
THESEUS No epilogue, I pray you. For your play needs
no excuse. Never excuse. For when the players are
all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if
375 he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged
himself in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine
tragedy; and so it is, truly, and very notably discharged.
But, come, your Bergomask. Let your
Dance, and the players exit.
380 The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.
Lovers, to bed! ’Tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn
As much as we this night have overwatched.
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon,
390 Whilst the heavy plowman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
395 In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.
400 And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse
405 Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
First rehearse your song by rote,
415 To each word a warbling note.
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing and bless this place.
Oberon leads the Fairies in song and dance.
Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
420 To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessèd be,
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
425 Ever true in loving be,
And the blots of Nature’s hand
Shall not in their issue stand.
Never mole, harelip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
430 Despisèd in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
435 Through this palace, with sweet peace.
And the owner of it blest,
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away. Make no stay.
Meet me all by break of day.
All but Robin exit.
440 If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
445 No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearnèd luck
450 Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
455 And Robin shall restore amends.